I have to start this correspondence with an apology to you my friend. I have been meaning to write something to you for quite some time. I have this inner prompting to slow down and write to you but I have been 'quenching the spirit' so to speak. It is not intentional, mind you, but the result is the same nonetheless.
Several weeks ago I took on a new project on top of an already very busy schedule. I justified taking on yet another task because I would be helping more people. Sounds familiar? Since taking on this project I have not had a moment of rest. Weekends and holidays were spent catching up on work. Every free time is used to move from one task to another. I got stuck for weeks in "habit prayer." Time with God through prayer was reduced to saying several Our Fathers, Hail Mary's and Glory Be's, followed by a list of 'my petitions,' and a few words of thanksgiving. There was this nagging feeling telling me something was wrong. But I couldn't get off this merry-go-round of 'work, work, work, then, pray as a checklist.' As I said, habit prayer.
But God is good. Those silent whispers from the spirit within, the subtle promptings to do something different finally gave up being subtle and started SCREAMING OUT LOUD. I tell you, I needed that.
God in his goodness wanted to help but I was too busy to listen. I wouldn't slow down enough to recognize what God wanted me to do. It wasn't one thing that finally 'opened my eyes' but a series of things:
First, an assignment from my diaconate class.
I was to give a reflection on Bartimaeus, the blind man. My attention kept being drawn to how is it possible for this blind man to pick Jesus out of the many preachers in Jericho. How did this blind man recognize Jesus as the coming Messiah, the Son of David? Bartimaeus was, after all, surrounded by tens of thousands of worshipers and preachers all proclaiming one thing or another in this city of Jericho. Is it perhaps he learned to listen with his heart? What does it take to listen as well as Bartimaeus I wondered?
Second, a good reminder.
My wife shared what she heard from attending a local parish mission. The topic was about Prayer. The speaker emphasized that prayer is a two-way communication between us and God. We take our turn to talk, and God listens. The question is, do we give God his turn to talk? What is the balance between us talking and listening? I realized the past couple of weeks I was lucky to give 1% of my time listening to God. That means I was talking 99% of the time. As I said, habit prayer.
Third, a message from a visiting priest.
We had a visiting priest say Sunday Mass. Guess what his homily was about? He said we are meant to be human "beings" and not human "doings." He said we are not meant to just be 'doing' things all the time. We need to stop, and consider what God wants us to be doing. We are meant to always be connected to God in whatever we are doing. Nothing is really that good if it results in getting us farther away from God. It got me thinking.
Finally, I asked for help.
I confided with my wife about my problem. I told her I felt I was in this merry-go-round that I couldn't stop, nor could get out of. Her response was simple: STEP OFF (the merry-go-round). Of course she said more than that. She said I needed to re-evaluate if I was meant to help out with this project. We have limited time after all. But her message was clear. I must step off so I can discern properly.
Last night was one of the best nights for me in a long while. Guess why? I didn't do any work. I allowed myself time to just be still and know He is God. I was no longer part of the 1%. I gave God 99%. I am happy I have time again to do what the spirit was prompting me to do for a long time -- and that is to SAY A GREAT BIG THANKS to you. This past three months we gave $50,000 to one of our schools to help more children with their education, $10,000 to feed 160 starving families in Kenya (more coming), started distribution of $5,000 per month to another school to fund full-year scholarships, supported an upcoming mission to build a church, finalizing over $3 million dollars of new medical supplies and medicines to Africa, and the list goes on. This was all made possible by you because I'm sure at one point you were listening to the cries of our brothers and sisters around the world. I am convinced you would not have heard those cries had you given our appeals 1% of your time. Our needs continue to be great. I ask that you will continue to prayerfully consider supporting us generously.
If you are currently in the same situation I was, a situation you feel you have lost control of, please consider asking for help -- from God, and from loved ones. If you need an extra push, in all sincerity, I ask you to STEP OFF. Perhaps it is time to give God his 99%. Thank you for allowing me to serve you at Catholic World Mission.